Falah Al Ahbabi, General Manager of UPC
Committed to the most demanding sustainability requirements set forward by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC), the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre in Al Ain has achieved the five pearl rating of the Estidama Pearl Rating System (PRS) in the design phase. This makes it the first government sustainable development to attain the highest possible rating for sustainability and the benchmark to refer to.
The announcement of the centre’s five pearl rating – the first government department to receive such a high rating - comes ahead of World Environment Day, one of the principal initiatives through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment.
HE Falah Al Ahbabi, the General Manager of UPC, said: “The Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre is a tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed and his commitment to the natural and cultural life of the UAE. With one of its flagship projects gaining the top ranking, Abu Dhabi is sending a strong yet clear-cut message on World Environment Day that it is gearing up to establish itself as the Sustainable Arab Capital. Inspired by the forward-thinking and insightful vision of its leadership, Abu Dhabi has taken great leaps to translate this strategic vision into reality through the implementation of the Pearl Rating System on emerging projects and future planning initiatives.”
Emphasising the importance of Estidama in this symbolic project, HE Falah Al Ahbabi, added: “Estidama has gained strong momentum with more developers committing to its inter-disciplinary approach and sustainability guidelines. Achieving a higher rating beyond the required mandatory is proof that the industry is an active proponent of our initiative and a true partner in progress.”
“By achieving the highest Pearl Rating, the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre will be the catalyst for all upcoming sustainability-driven projects. It will prove incredibly relevant to our region given that the Estidama Pearl Rating System is a unique four-pillar programme tailor-made to tackle the needs of our region’s distinctive environment from the environmental, economic, cultural and social perspectives,” HE added.
The Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort (AWPR) is a pilot representation of the UAE’s pledge to wildlife conservation and to compliance with Estidama guidelines, attaining its highest ratings. The Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre (SZDLC) is at the heart of the development project that is designed with the Estidama guidelines at its core. Embedded within the UAE World Desert, the Centre will be offering attractive and high tech exhibits to bring the history of Abu Dhabi and the region into vibrant life. A centrepiece of this will be the preservation methods that have been used for survival in arid land ecosystems over the centuries. The visitors to the centre will be able to understand the practices of the past and gain the knowledge and awareness that is needed for conserving the desert and arid land ecosystems for future generations.
The project embellishes the core philosophies of the Estidama programme combing a cultural and technical framework for energy, water and construction standards based around sound architectural principles of passive measures linked to high efficiency in building systems backed up with responsible renewable technology. The project also achieves a first in attaining innovation credits which once completed could influence Emirate wide construction practices.
The Pearl Rating System, one of the first initiatives of the Estidama programme, is a framework for sustainable design, construction and operation of communities, buildings and villas. The Pearl Rating System is unique in the world in that it is an integrated government initiative and specifically tailored to the hot climate and arid environment of Abu Dhabi. All new private buildings are required to earn at least a one pearl rating, while government buildings must earn a two pearl rating. A five pearl rating, which the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre has achieved, means that a structure has met the most stringent sustainability criterion.
HE Falah Al Ahbabi concluded: “With Estidama and Pearl Rating System taking huge leaps in urban developments in Abu Dhabi, we are confident that they will present unrivalled level of benefits for generations to come, not only by preserving our natural resources but also preserving and promoting our heritage and way of life. We begin this leap by setting a pattern of high achievement and commitment to sustainability with the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre.”
Al Ain Wildlife Park and the Sheikh Zayed Centre have already received Estidama-compliance first recognition in 2009 and 2008 respectively as they were selected as Estidama pilot projects.
World Environment Day – celebrated each year on 5 June – is one of the principal initiatives through which the UN Environmental Programme stimulates awareness of the environment and focuses political attention and action. The annual event is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environment action.